Ali McLean

Ali founded Artisan Travel so not surprisingly perhaps, he has been here from the very start. During a long career in the travel industry, he has travelled extensively, and it was one of those light-bulb-above-the-head moments that suggested to him what would become the defining principle behind Artisan Travel.

Ali retired from the business in the summer of 2023 and now spends his time cycling around the Northumberland countryside. 

Ali founded Artisan on the principle that his favourite holiday experiences, have always been in the company of local people, meaning he can get under the skin or the destinations. This, he realised, is what happens when we at Artisan Travel set out with local tourism experts to explore the place where they live and work.  Basically, they are the guys with the key insider information, so we simply listen, learn and strive to pass on the absolute best of any given country to our clients.

Ali’s favourite country is probably Finland and he returns time and time again. Over the years, he has made some great friends there and enjoys nothing more than dog sledding or snowmobiling or skiing or searching for the Northern Lights or simply eating and drinking with his Finnish chums.

Apart from travel, Ali’s great passions are his family, Led Zeppelin and cycling.

Favourite Experiences

• Snowmobiling with Harriniva's owner about 15 years ago. It was the first time I'd ever been snowmobiling, racing across frozen lakes, negotiating the tricky trails through the snow.
• Feeding the reindeer at Utsjoki. Wild, rugged and wonderful with no less than three sacred fells, you wouldn't want to get lost if the weather turned bad in the wilderness surrounding Utsjoki. However, joining a local reindeer herder - who knows the terrain like the back of his hand - as he calls in his herd at feeding team is a thought-provoking tough are the Sámi people to have lived here with their herds for centuries?
• Simply going for a walk alongside the lake at Saija Lodge. The renowned Finnish author Kalle Päätalo hailed from these parts and his depiction of life here during the 1930's depression makes the reader feel very, very grateful for our modern day home comforts because life here was a constant struggle. Hence the name of Paatalo's most famous novel "Our Daily bread".
• Exploring the spectacular volcanic landscape of The Azores.


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